Wait, How Much Does a Disney Cruise Cost?

by Sherri Eisenberg

Wait, How Much Does a Disney Cruise Cost?

by Sherri Eisenberg

Family cruisers hear a lot about how wonderful Disney Cruise Line ships are … especially from us. We love the high level of service, the cabins designed just right for travelers with multiple kids (bunk beds come out of the ceiling! Diaper Genies are on loan ... for free!), the industry-leading kids clubs that are constantly being updated with cool new areas ("Star Wars" play rooms! Marvel comics areas!), and the giant roster of activities for little cruisers of all ages.

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Pool deck on Disney Fantasy / Disney
Animator's Palate
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1. In some ways, you actually get more.

Disney Cruise Line includes a few things in its fares that cost extra on other lines. For example, there is no additional charge for soft drinks on Disney ships at meals and at the self-serve “taps” by the pool. The line also doesn’t charge for loaner strollers or sand strollers for use on its private island (Castaway Cay), nor is there a fee to borrow jogging strollers or wagons to pull your kids — and all of their toys — around the island. Carnival charges a fee to borrow strollers on its ships, whereas Norwegian and Royal Caribbean don't offer strollers at all.

Disney Cruise Line includes a few things in its fares that cost extra on other lines. For example, there is no additional charge for soft drinks on Disney ships at meals and at the self-serve “taps” by the pool. The line also doesn’t charge for loaner strollers or sand strollers for use on its private island (Castaway Cay), nor is there a fee to borrow jogging strollers or wagons to pull your kids — and all of their toys — around the island. Carnival charges a fee to borrow strollers on its ships, whereas Norwegian and Royal Caribbean don't offer strollers at all.

Royal Palace on Disney Dream
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2. Service is better in some parts of the experience.

Disney’s special style of service includes waiters who follow you from restaurant to restaurant, giving your family the chance to try all of the no-fee dining rooms without any interruptions in service. After the first night, your drinks will be waiting on the table, and the kids’ cups will have lids and straws and be marked with their names. In addition, waiters are trained to entertain the little ones during meals with everything from juggling and magic tricks to brain teasers.

If you sign up for the kids club, you can participate in a program that has your children's food expedited so they can be picked up by kids club staff while the grown-ups continue to linger over the meal, allowing a mix of “family meal” and “adult time” that works. Royal Caribbean has a similar program on its ships, but only during the first seating in the main dining room. 

Disney’s special style of service includes waiters who follow you from restaurant to restaurant, giving your family the chance to try all of the no-fee dining rooms without any interruptions in service. After the first night, your drinks will be waiting on the table, and the kids’ cups will have lids and straws and be marked with their names. In addition, waiters are trained to entertain the little ones during meals with everything from juggling and magic tricks to brain teasers.

If you sign up for the kids club, you can participate in a program that has your children's food expedited so they can be picked up by kids club staff while the grown-ups continue to linger over the meal, allowing a mix of “family meal” and “adult time” that works. Royal Caribbean has a similar program on its ships, but only during the first seating in the main dining room. 

Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom on Disney Dream
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3. In some ways, these ships are more focused on families.

Disney’s cabin design includes a feature the line developed itself: split bathrooms, with a sink and toilet in one and a sink and shower/tub in the other. The result? It’s easier for families to get ready at both bedtime and in the morning. Carnival now offers a similar cabin design in the Family Harbor Suites on its latest ship, Carnival Vista.

Disney’s cabin design includes a feature the line developed itself: split bathrooms, with a sink and toilet in one and a sink and shower/tub in the other. The result? It’s easier for families to get ready at both bedtime and in the morning. Carnival now offers a similar cabin design in the Family Harbor Suites on its latest ship, Carnival Vista.

Minnie and Donald at sail-away on Disney Dream
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4. You can’t beat the character opportunities.

If what your gang is really excited about is the opportunity for character photo ops — well, nobody is ever going to handle this better than Disney. Cruisers are welcomed aboard by Mickey and Minnie, the sail-away party features a band led by Donald and Daisy Duck, and guests can line up to meet the princesses — and get their autographs — one morning in the atrium. Characters hit the beach along with the passengers on Castaway Cay, and often make appearances in the kids club. These meetups include a chance to learn Jedi training in a class with Stormtroopers and Darth Vader. Carnival's partnership with Dr. Seuss is more modest, as is Royal Caribbean's partnership with DreamWorks, which is only on some ships; Nickelodeon recently ended its relationship with Norwegian Cruise Line.

If what your gang is really excited about is the opportunity for character photo ops — well, nobody is ever going to handle this better than Disney. Cruisers are welcomed aboard by Mickey and Minnie, the sail-away party features a band led by Donald and Daisy Duck, and guests can line up to meet the princesses — and get their autographs — one morning in the atrium. Characters hit the beach along with the passengers on Castaway Cay, and often make appearances in the kids club. These meetups include a chance to learn Jedi training in a class with Stormtroopers and Darth Vader. Carnival's partnership with Dr. Seuss is more modest, as is Royal Caribbean's partnership with DreamWorks, which is only on some ships; Nickelodeon recently ended its relationship with Norwegian Cruise Line.

Disney Fantasy's Quiet Cove
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5. Adults are catered to as well. 

Disney doesn't focus squarely on families with kids; it includes parents who want to make sure they have some alone time during their cruise. There are adults-only restaurants on board, adults-only bars and lounges, and an adults-only pool. (Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean all showcase adults-only sun decks, some with pools and others with hot tubs or just upgraded deck chairs.) Of course, Disney is the only large mass-market line not to have a casino, so if that's important to you, you'll want to look elsewhere. 

Disney also provides an adults-only beach on its private island that's one of the calmest, quietest stretches of sand on any of the cruise line's private islands. (Princess Cruises is the only other line with an adults-only area on its private island, Princess Cays.) Disney is the sole line to offer babysitting on its private island, and this may just be heaven for grown-ups as well as kids. Most islands owned by lines lack activities for kids that don't require parents to be involved, though Royal Caribbean does have supervised programs for kids on CocoCay and Labadee, and Princess Cays has a supervised playground.

Disney doesn't focus squarely on families with kids; it includes parents who want to make sure they have some alone time during their cruise. There are adults-only restaurants on board, adults-only bars and lounges, and an adults-only pool. (Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean all showcase adults-only sun decks, some with pools and others with hot tubs or just upgraded deck chairs.) Of course, Disney is the only large mass-market line not to have a casino, so if that's important to you, you'll want to look elsewhere. 

Disney also provides an adults-only beach on its private island that's one of the calmest, quietest stretches of sand on any of the cruise line's private islands. (Princess Cruises is the only other line with an adults-only area on its private island, Princess Cays.) Disney is the sole line to offer babysitting on its private island, and this may just be heaven for grown-ups as well as kids. Most islands owned by lines lack activities for kids that don't require parents to be involved, though Royal Caribbean does have supervised programs for kids on CocoCay and Labadee, and Princess Cays has a supervised playground.

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